UNESCO has criticised the “inappropriate” proposal to raise the Warragamba Dam wall by 14 metres, warning the current plans have not addressed key concerns in a Technical Review undertaken by its scientific advisors at the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
The UNESCO World Heritage Centre wrote to the federal government last month outlining its concerns about the dam’s environmental impact statement (EIS). Key concerns included that the methodology for assessing ecological impact and impact on associated cultural values was insufficient and that local communities, including traditional owners, did not appear to have been adequately consulted.
“Based on the information provided in the EIS and discussed above, it appears that the project, as proposed, would directly degrade [the outstanding universal value]... In this regard, IUCN considers that proceeding further with the implementation of the project appears to be inappropriate in relation to the requirements of the World Heritage Convention.”
Colong Foundation Chair and former NSW Environment Minister, Bob Debus, said:
"The UNESCO advice is saying quite clearly that raising of the Warragamba Dam wall is totally inconsistent with Australia's obligations under the World Heritage Convention.
"Despite the torrent of expert condemnation from UNESCO, Minister Ayres merely dismisses these reports as a flesh wound. He has become the Black Knight of Warragamba Dam.
"Stuart Ayres is putting Australia on a collision course with the World Heritage Committee, a situation that can only end with an in-danger listing for the Blue Mountains."